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A Martyr Dolorosa

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Aunt Nancy was the wife of Uncle 'Lisha. It would be impos.sible to give a biography of Aunt Nancy without including Uuole 'Lisha, or to oliminate her individuality long enough to serve her np alone. And 1 doubt if the dear old lady would likc such marital independence. Nor do I think she would recognize any picture of herself that was not a reflection of him. Like the moon she shone bjr borrowedlight. Uncle 'Lisha was a living illustration of the old adagc, "It is betterto be born lucky than rich." His property was inherited, and he never (lid a day's work in nis liru. p& cTouiy P.]sc jD his family worked, Aunt Nancy, EB wife, more than any of them. Uncle 'Lisha didn't work bccause he enjoyed poor health. A partial list of his complaints would read about like this: Fever and ague. Chronio indigestión. Paralysis of the heavt. Paralysis of the liver. Inilanimatory rheumatism. Lameness in the left knee. Lameness in the right kcee. Ossitication of the joints. Hereditary consuinption. (ün tho rnother's side.) Hereditary apoplexy. (ün the father's side.) These were just a few of the ïlls which beset the poor man, and made him exceedingly careful of himself. He couldn't stoop f or fear of apoplectic symptoms; he was afraid to lift anything on account of his spine; he never dared hurry, as his heart had a habit of beating.and in f act nothing agreed with him except - doing nothing. He was the very same boy rcferred to in the following incident. I am aware it is credited to tho Beechcr family, but they never had a monopoly of lazy boys, if they didof bright ones. 'Únele 'Lisha's father, the good doctor, had one time been away f rom homo a few days, leaving his tvvo boys, Elisha and Ezokiel, to do the chores. When hn returned nothing had been done, and the boys were discovered in a hay-rnow reading storics. "Zeke!" thundcred tlie doctor, "come hero, sir." Zeke carne and stood shamefacedly before him. "What have you been doing siace I was away?" "Nothing, sir." "Elisha, come here, you, and give an account of yourself. Teil the truth now. What havo you been doing?" "Helping Zeke, sir." This faculty was Uncle 'Lisha's stock in trade, and he steadily improved it and made others believe in it, until they really considered it wrong to expect him to do anything. I can see him vet putting on his boots of a winter's "morning. All tho cattle had been foddercd, water drawn and wood carried in. Aunt Nancy had been np hours getting breakfast and hushing tho children and telling them not to make a noise and wake "poor fatlier," who hadn't slcpt a wink all night Gentle soul! lt i posgible tha she believed it, for she was toe tired herself to lie awako to see. Am when he carne down they all Waited on him and handed him his boots, while he lingered patiently in front of the ho fire. Then he would cough feebly, pu his hand to his heart, sigh- and warm the inside of one boot. Aftr restihg f rom this exertion he would take astra] in each hand and with several attempt get it on. Then a long rest, before similar process with the other one. A drink of reviving water was then handed by one eliild, while anothe stood by and looked at him as if he har been n ten-horned wonder. "l'oo father" was only atHieted with spring fever, which lasted him the year rount - in other words, ehronic laziness. "I shan't last long," he Vould say i that whiney-piney voice, which ex asperated all who knew him as ho really was. "Then, Nancy, you and the children can havo it all your own way. ' ' And Aunt Nancy would cry and the children bowl, and'theie would be some added delicacy at the sufferer's plate for the next meal. "There's only a dozen eggs in the house," that saintly woman would observe. "Now, children, I'm going to cook tliose for your poor father- don't ne of you ask foreggs." lint when he rcached the last cggonn; f tho temptod cliildren would phick p courage, to hint for it. Uncle 'Lisha ould look at that child with a oounteanoe of meek reproaoh and say: 'Yes, take it, take it, and let your )oor, sick father starve." Thore was no chance for Aunt Naney o have any pet ailrnents. If she was ick and complained, Uncle 'Lisha. vould say: 'Tve lelt jnst so, mother," and that ettled it. If he was going anywhere 10 Wnuld put in the saving clause: "If I live, and Nancy' s well." Her headaches were mere chimeras f the imagination. 'Tve suri'ered worso and never menioned it- suffered like a wintergreen," ie wouid add, as if that were the ne )lus ultra of misery. Kvery year or two he made a new vill, and every day he advised Aunt "ïancy what to do when he was gone. n their early married life, when the; cliildren were small, he had dreaded hat she would marry again, lmt in ater years this fear had no place in his hougbts. The cliildren themselves vere married and gone, and Aunt 'iancy was an old woman with a white, lacid face, and bands of iron-gray ïair - not really old, but worn out - her' I ifu had been stteh a perpetual echo of1 Uncle 'Lisha. He didn't liko company, so she didn't havo any. He never wanted to go anywhere, so she stayed at home. If sho ever went to church sho had to go alone, and that was so dreary and sho had so many inquiries to answer about his health that she sellom went. "You'll miss me when I'm gone," he would say cheerfully, and so she would. And she would have missed the old clock in the corner,. too, if it had suddenly disappeared. "What does the doctor say about me?" he asked her one day when the village physician had gono out, iirst calling her to one side. Perhaps Aunt Nancy was a little worn out that day, or believed in heroic treatment, but she doliberately answered: "He thinks you haven't a diseaso in the world, Elisha, and that if you would take more exercise it would be better for you." He was wounded to the quick, and did not speak to her for twenty-four hours, and he discharged the impolitic physician the next day. Unclo 'Lisha was fond of laahrymose hymns, and when not singing "Hark from the tomljs a doleful sound," Ho would tip back in hischair - theeas?est in tlie house - close his cyes and chaat by tho Iiour: "T'm R-oins: homo Ko more to in and sorrow, No more to bear The brow of caro, T'm going homo to-morrow." But to-morrows carne and went and Cncle 'Lisha did not go home. Thore was a shelf in the closet which was especially devotod to his medicines. In his eai-ly days ho had dosedmildly with rhubarb and sarsaparilla. Then quinino became tho fashion and ho dissipated on that. Liniments for rheumatism, patent nostrums and alterativo pilla, completed the list, except that thero wa3 no end to the domestic remedies, sueh as mustard and ginger, and other alleviating agents. "When 1 am gone," he would say mournfully, "give my medicines to some deserving poor person. There'll never be another such sufferer in tho family as I have been." But there camo a day when even Uncle 'Lisha's ailments wero of little account. Annt Nancy was sick, very siek. She had been breaking down all snmmer, but no one had been concerned, least of all her husband, who had dcveloped new symptoms, that were very alarming - to himself. Finally she went to her bed and sent for her children. They at once called in a doctor, who on his ürst visit lookcd exccedingly grave. Upon the second he asked for a privóte iulturicw with Uncle 'Lisha. "Your wifo is a very sick wornan," he said, abruptly. "She does seem ailing," said Uncle 'Lisha, rubbing his lame knee, and forgetting at the moment which one it was; "but, bless yon, I've had the same symptoms so long I'm used to them, doctor. She's wèll, compared to me, actually well." The doctor lookcd at the oldoian with soino contempt. "Threatened lires last long," he said, bluntly. "But have it your own wav. Tve tried to preparo you- that's all." The doctor took leave, and Uncle 'Lisha went into tho sick room. All was caltn and serene. Most of all, that pale, still face on the pillow. The patiënt eyes held the same kindly light in them that had been there for thirty vean when they met his. The pinched, white cheeks were only niore sunken and withered. "Havíng a kind of spell, ain't you, Nancy?" said Uncle 'Lisha. "Now don't git discouraged. "I've feit jest so hundreds of times! Il's nothing new and nothing to worry about." "I'm not worrving," said his wife, faintly; "I lm dymg, 'Lisha." "Nancy, you oughtn't to talk about sueh a 'seVioiis thiug as that so lightly It it- makes in y Siwntlnm worse to hear you. You ouglit to have somo consideration for ine. I can't stand everything." "Poor old boy," said Aunt Nancy shaking hisplump, stronghand. "Poor 'Lisha! you will miss me for awhile." "There, there, now." said Uncle 'Lisha, soothingly; "l'll give you a spoonful of my tonic in the morning and you'Il come out Hke a lark' in tho springtime, (!o to sleep, Naney; it'l help you wonderfully. It ahvays helps The next morning Aunt Nancy hat taken the tonic of anew life. "I'm going home ürst, af[er all," she said, uit h a smile, and died. This upset all the calculations of a life-time with Unclo 'Lisha. He had nobody to complain to, no ono who cared in the least whether he had twenty ailments or one. Ile was not encouraged to be lazy, and helplessand selfish, and he feil into complete ruin. Ho had enough to live on, but nothing to live for, ai ho could not complain to self, or discnss with himself his own Kymptoms. Ho never talked of dyingi or sang "I'm going home" again. In iine weather ho went up to nis wife's grave. Doubtless it wonld have dis-t tressed her had she known that she was leaf to his complaints. In his room a dress and shawl of hers hung near his chair. When ho linally became ill in earnest he made light of it. i'or their mother's sake the children tended hlm dutiíully. One night he stretched out a wasteïl hand and touched his wife's dress. "Nancy," they heard him whisper, "I'm going home, l'ui going home tomorrow."


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News